Animal Safe Haven Closer to Reality
|by Fay Jacobs|
|There's going to be a safe haven.
The proposed "no-kill" animal shelter for Sussex County, named Safe Haven, is several steps, no make that paw prints, towards reality. In fact, the non-profit organization formed to make this animal rescue dream come true has acquired the land, some of the funding and the first wave of energetic volunteers needed to get the project going.
Safe Haven Board Member George Coscia, along with his faithful Schnauzer Dreyfus as spokesdog, is spearheading the communications effort to get the word out. And that word is "we're going to succeed by saving one animal at a time."
For those new to the mostly sad world of homeless animals, Safe Haven and other "no-kill" shelters like it around the country work to rescue animals that would otherwise be euthanized. Neither Kent nor Sussex Counties have a no-kill alternative.
Government run shelters have only so much room, and if animals are sick or unadopted, the statistics on euthanasia are horrifying. Safe Haven intends to step in and rescue dogs and cats (and possibly other species) who run out of time at the shelters, or who have otherwise found their way to Safe Haven, give them a good home and work hard to get them adopted. Animals that are not adopted will be able to stay at Safe Haven.
At Safe Haven, animals will be housed, fed, tended and hopefully adopted out to loving families. For the future, the Board envisions programs bringing animals for nursing home visits, a pet cemetery, youth education programs, a program working with local veterinarians on a spay and neuter program and a lot more.
George Coscia, retired to Rehoboth from his own successful New York City ad agency, has turned his passion for saving animals into a volunteer position that rivals his former full-time occupation. "Last summer I went to the beach every day. Haven't been there at all this season," he says. But that doesn't bother George. He's on a mission that's succeeding. But much more help is needed.
Thanks to a loan from County Bank, Safe Haven will be located on a 14-acre site just ten miles up Route 9 from Five Points on Shingle Point Road.
"It wasn't easy to find the right property," Coscia says. The group looked at over 25 different sites before finding the current location. "It had to be close to the volunteer base and isolated from homes and neighborhoods. The group also wanted the location to offer a big enough piece of property for future expansion.
The shelter, which the Board plans to have up and running by next spring, will require lots of volunteer hands and a little help from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, because the site includes some wetlands.
Dr. Evelyn Maurmeyer, of Coastal and Estuarine Research Inc. has provided a pro bono study of the wetlands and Horace Stalvey Jr. of Meridian Architects and Engineers will provide in-kind engineering services.
"We will be working closely with government agencies and our volunteers to make this happen," George says.
County residents will be able to bring abandoned or lost dogs and cats to the site, rather than sheltering them in their homes, and other animal agencies will be able to send animals to Safe Haven as well. The goal is to work with all the other agencies in the area to make sure that more animals are saved.
According to Executive Director Mary Ann Fleetwood, Safe Haven is based on a model sanctuary called Best Friends in Utah as well as a successful no-kill sanctuary called Heart and Soul in New Mexico. She said that there will be two buildings initially, one for cats while the other will be for dogs.
Also, there will be an animal care program for pet owners who are sick and unable to care for their animals. Safe Haven will take over the job to give those pet owners peace of mind and assurance that their beloved animals are in a safe and loving environment.
Local attorney Harold Dukes is Board chairman for Safe Haven. He was instrumental in site selection and getting this project off and running.
Right now, Safe Haven is launching a major capital campaign. Coscia said the Longwood Foundation has challenged Safe Haven to demonstrate community support by raising start-up money by Sept. 15. Support demonstrated, the foundation will consider making a sizable donation.
According to Save Haven board member Tom Poor, co-owner of Bin 66, a wine and spirits store in Rehoboth, people can make credit card donations by logging on to the Safe Haven Web site, which is currently under construction. The web site is safehavensanctuary.com.
To make a donation, mail a check to the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary of Sussex County, P.O. Box 430, Nassau DE 19969. To make a donation later on, call 226-4662 or 644-3570 for a pledge sheet. All donations are tax-deductible.
There are also collection cans in many of the area's restaurants and shops.
"It's important to continue our aggressive fundraising," George says. "We're asking local residents to make whatever gift they can afford.
We're going to have the kind of compassionate care and no-kill animal shelter we want. We will be saving hundreds of animals and giving them a second chance at life."
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 12 August 26, 2005